Washington DC: Got the belly bulge? You may want to turn down the heat inside your house during winter as a new study has found that those whose homes stay cool have smaller waistlines.
Although cold exposure may be a trigger of cardiovascular disease, this data suggests that safe and appropriate cold exposure may be an effective preventive measure against obesity, said lead investigator Keigo Saeki of Nara Medical University School of Medicine.
Cold exposure activates thermogenesis, to generate body heat, in brown fat. This type of fat is the good calorie-burning fat that prior research found most humans have. However, Saeki said the association between the amount of cold exposure and obesity in real life remains unclear.
He and his colleagues used data from 1,103 participants in the HEIJO-KYO study, a community-based study in Japan, to investigate the association between housing environment and health in home-dwelling older adults. The participants had an average age of 72, and all stayed home in the daytime. Almost 47 percent of the group was men.
Results showed that the 64 participants whose indoor temperatures were lowest had an average waist circumference of 32 inches. Their waist measurement was 1.4 inches smaller than that of the 164 participants with the highest housing temperature, whose waistlines measured 33.4 inches on average.
This difference was statistically significant, according to the researchers, and remained significant when they adjusted for factors including age, sex, physical activity, total calorie intake and socioeconomic status.
According to Saeki, to establish a safe and appropriate cold exposure for prevention from obesity, further study is needed about the minimum amount of cold exposure to activate calorie-burning brown fat.